Hot toys, open en­roll­ment, soc­cer square­off

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - WORLD / NATION - JAY GREESON Con­tact Jay Greeson at jgree­[email protected]­freep­ress.com and 423-757-6343.

I’m not sure about the best way to in­tro­duce this topic other than to just jump in, so here goes.

The hottest Christ­mas toys this year range from mak­ing most of us feel like a kid again to feel­ing like we are from an­other planet.

Ac­cord­ing to Ama­zon. com, here are five wide-reach­ing op­tions un­der the “Top 100 Toys” tab:

› The nostal­gic: There are Hot Wheels and Play-Doh op­tions. Some­where, the 5-year-old in all of us just smiled.

› The nostal­gic with the new: There are a lot of Lego op­tions, from old­school to Star Wars to some ro­bot-build­ing and cod­ing ver­sion of Le­gos that seems equal parts Toy Story and Ter­mi­na­tor.

› The messy: Sure, slime in its var­i­ous forms has been a child­hood sta­ple for years. Well, now we have the Whopped Cream Pie Face Can­non fam­ily board game. Noth­ing says af­ter-din­ner fam­ily time around the ta­ble like a pie can­non, right?

› The can-we-wait-afew-more-years op­tions: In be­tween a claw ma­chine of squishy toys and Cinnabun the Bunny, there was the You’ve Got Crabs card game. No thanks.

› The get-your-old­er­sib­ling-to-help-you-with­that cat­e­gory: This in­cludes the Blue Bit Cod­ing Ro­bot, which be­yond mak­ing sure it has bat­ter­ies, seems pretty ad­vanced for Santa and his co­horts.

HOME FOR THE HOL­I­DAYS AND BE­YOND

The re­cent de­vel­op­ments of the Scenic City soc­cer square-off are quite in­trigu­ing.

In one cor­ner, we had the Chattanooga Foot­ball Club, who have laid a decade’s worth of ground work and de­vel­oped a great re­la­tion­ship with a fan base and the city. That is valu­able.

In the other, there is the Chattanooga Red Wolves, who are start­ing next year with big plans and big­ger dreams of build­ing a new soc­cer fa­cil­ity at an un­de­ter­mined site.

It was an­nounced this week that the FC just re-upped with Fort Fin­ley as their home, and that makes sense.

But, and this is a big but, be­cause there have been roughly a dozen teams in al­most ev­ery sport pledg­ing to come to town and make a stand, if the Red Wolves cre­ate a new soc­cer den, then that likely will be a game-changer on so many lev­els.

HELP THEM RHONDA

I re­ceive a fair amount of, shall we say, “not ex­actly fan mail,” and a lot of it comes when I raise some con­tra­dic­tory points about our county school sys­tem.

It’s part of the gig. Well, to­day, I want to com­mend Rhonda Thur­man for con­tin­u­ing to be a voice of her con­stituency and her con­science.

As news came this week from this pa­per’s Meghan Mangrum that Hamilton County Schools is go­ing to vote next week about open en­roll­ment at seven county schools, Thur­man seemed to be the main voice of rea­son on the is­sue, at least in terms of trans­porta­tion.

Rhonda, you keep be­ing you, be­cause un­like any of your board mem­ber peers, you seem to re­mem­ber that the school lead­er­ship an­swers to the board rather than board mem­bers serv­ing as mouth­pieces for the agenda du jour.

We could fill this en­tire page on the mer­its and de­bates of open en­roll­ment com­pared to shut­ting down un­der­uti­lized — and dated — schools, but for any­one to think our pub­lic school sys­tem needs to jump through the ex­pen­sive and lo­gis­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble bus­ing needs for so few is some­where be­tween silly and ir­re­spon­si­ble.

SATUR­DAY STAR

Al­low me to present a friend of mine who makes this space not be­cause of his friend­ship but be­cause of his com­mit­ment — year-round — to mak­ing his com­mu­nity bet­ter.

That’s an open-ended and in­ter­est­ing word, com­mu­nity. Com­mu­nity can be found at a ball field or a church gath­er­ing or a zip code and so many other pos­si­bil­i­ties.

For my friend T.W. Francescon, well, all of those def­i­ni­tions ap­ply and all those com­mu­ni­ties are bet­ter be­cause of him.

Want proof? Well, T.W. is lead­ing the Christ­mas fundrais­ing drive for his lo­cal po­lice and fire de­part­ments. He is among the peo­ple who de­liver each year the Chattanooga Prayer Break­fast — an event that has its heart in the proper spot. He also can be found at sev­eral ball fields with his sons, re­gard­less of sea­son.

May we all en­rich our com­mu­ni­ties as much in 2019 as T.W. has done in his var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties for years.

Un­til next time, friends.

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